Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Online Supplement

Resources and Chapter Guide for “Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko”

Editor’s Note: Please see Todd Munson’s teaching resources essay “Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko” from the winter 2019 issue of Education About Asia beginning on p. 54. Names and locations in the chapter outline use the Revised Romanization of Korean. Suggested Resources and Chapter Guide for “Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko” Abroad in Japan. “Japan’s Biggest Gaming Obsession Explained | Pachinko.” YouTube Video, 11:06. July 20, 2018. https://youtu.be/-tBy2...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Pachinko By Min Jin Lee New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2017 496 pages, ISBN: 978-1455563937, Hardcover Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, nominee for the 2017 National Book Award for fiction, is a sweeping historical saga of one family’s experience living as “forever foreigners” in twentieth-century Japan. Despite its heft (496 pages in the hardcover edition), the novel is written in an accessible and engaging style appropriate for both undergraduates and high school students. Moreover, Pa...

Feature Article

Poetry, Prose, and Political Science

I’ve never read poetry in a political science class before. I have frequently cited this statement as my favorite student evaluation comment ever. I don’t even remember clearly if the statement was meant positively (I think it was!)—but I certainly took it that way. I have long used selected prose and poetry in introductory (first- and second-year) college-level political science classes focused on India or South Asia to convey certain themes and arguments to students. Using literatur...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Weight of Our Sky

The Weight of Our Sky By Hanna Alkaf New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019 288 pages, ISBN 978-1534426085, Hardcover Reviewed by Zoë McLaughlin The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf centers on Melati, a Malaysian schoolgirl who is a fan of the Beatles and loves going to the cinema with her best friend. But one thing sets Melati apart: she believes she has a djinn inside of her, a creature out of Islamic mythology who regularly shows her scenes of death and pain, compelling her to count and t...

Feature Article

The Tale of the Heike and Japan’s Cultural Pivot to the Art of War

There are two main reasons to teach The Tale of the Heike, one literary and the other historical. Its subject matter, the Genpei War (1180–1185 CE), marked a pivot in social, cultural, and political life in Japan. This civil war ended four centuries of the Heian period (794–1185), characterized by the cultivated life described so beautifully in Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji (c. 1000 CE). In Murasaki’s time, an aristocracy dominated society, linked by family ties with the emperor...

Book Review Essay

The Fourth String: A Memoir of Sensei and Me

A young native English speaker goes to Japan to earn money to pay her debts. This is not an unusual beginning for the “foreigner discovers Japan” memoir. But shortly after Janet Pocorobba settles into her new life, it takes a surprising turn when a friend points out an ad in an English-language publication: “Free lesson in shamisen and singing! Take something home with you from your stay in Japan!” (60). In September 1996, Pocorobba responds to that ad and meets Sensei, as she calls the...

Feature Article

Chinese Schools and Students—1985–2015: My Reflections

On my first visit to a Chinese high school in March 1985, I received a tour starting in the courtyard, where a PE class was in session. The students at the front of the rows were doing their jumping jacks with full energy. The students at the back were barely going through the motions. “This is totally familiar,” I said to myself.

Teaching Resources Essay

Leading a Short-Term Study Trip for Students in Japan

The best way for students to study the history, culture, and livelihoods of another country is through an organized in-country experience. There are various benefits that can accrue through such an endeavor. One can learn about a part of the world away from home while at the same time gaining a deeper appreciation of one’s own culture by looking at it from the outside. Ideally, a student will spend a full semester or year studying abroad, but that is a luxury that many cannot afford in terms o...

Feature Article

Encounters Between Chinese and Jewish Civilizations

Comparison of Chinese and Jewish civilizations does not seem an obvious choice. At first glance, the differences between Chinese and Jewish history, numbers, language, religion, and more are enormous. Yet since 1605, when Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci in Beijing encountered for the first time a Chinese Jew, meetings between Chinese and Jews, as well as thoughts about their similarities, have fascinated the Western mind.1 Belgian– Australian sinologist Pierre Ryckmans called China “the oldes...

Book Review, Columns

Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya

The Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya brings an instant sense of connectedness to the remote land and peoples of the Himalaya. The photographs imply the rich cultural diversity of the population, as well as the geographic complexity of the land. The readers’ eyes follow a myriad of maps, charts, and calculated data dispersed throughout the book while gaining a deeper sense of appreciation for the way of life of the inhabitants living within the highest altitudes of the world....

EAA Interview, Resources

An EAA Interview with the 2017 Franklin R. Buchanan Prizewinner Anne Prescott for East Asia in the World: An Introduction

This is our twenty-first consecutive interview with the recipient of the AAS Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. This year’s winner is Anne Prescott, who is the Editor of East Asia in the World: An Introduction (Routledge, 2015). The text offers students a fresh, comprehensive, multidisciplinary entry point to East Asia, with an emphasis on the globalizing processes the region is undergoing. A review of East Asia in the World: An Introduction appears on page 62. Anne Prescott has been studying Japa...

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia in the World: An Introduction

Anne Prescott, ed. New York: Routledge, 2015 292 pages, ISBN: 978-0765643223, Paperback Reviewed by Stephanie Lee Rizas East Asia in the World: An Introduction, edited by Anne Prescott, should be in every history teacher’s classroom. This slim text somehow manages to cover essential elements of Asian history, culture, economics, and politics, and provides a plethora of extension resources that correlate to each chapter. The text itself is high-level, and some chapters and sections ma...

Online Supplement

Dreaming, Making, and Breaking Family and Kinship in Contemporary South Korea

While South Korea makes headlines much more frequently nowadays for its vibrant and lucrative popular culture industry, until the 2000s, South Korea was known to outsiders first and foremost as a “family-centric” society. This family-centrism has been the underlying focus of a large number of Korean anthropological studies, covering “education fever,” extended family networks, hierarchical business culture, and ancestor worship. North Korea is also noticed for its family-centrism—namel...

Feature Article

Water, Tradition, and Innovation: Flowing through Japan’s Cultural History

Water, a gift from nature, is an essential part of our daily lives. People use water every day, everywhere, for everything—often without much consideration for its significance in terms of the larger social, cultural, historical, economic, and environmental implications for the twenty-first century. As an island nation, Japan has a deep connection with water in various ways, creating a cultural history where water and life go hand in hand. In Japan, water bridges past and present, tradition an...

Feature Article

Mongolian Dzud: Threats to and Protection of Mongolia’s Herding Communities

[caption id="attachment_7386" align="alignright" width="246"] 2012 in Ulziit, Uvurkhangai, Mongolia. A herder rides out to collect his animals during a dzud. Source: © ZUMA Press, Inc. / Alamy Stock Photo.[/caption] In far western Mongolia, it hadn’t rained since July 2015. The cattle, goats, sheep, and camels that families rely on were growing thin, and as winter began to set in, herders were fearful that they might face a dzud, a severe kind of winter storm in which many animals would di...

Feature Article

Cultural Associations of Water in Early Chinese and Indian Religion and Medicine

[caption id="attachment_7307" align="aligncenter" width="419"] Reading and relaxing by West Lake (Xihu) in Hangzhou, eastern China. Photo courtesy of the author.[/caption] While it invariably has been recognized as a necessary part of human life, water has been understood and spoken about in a variety of ways across cultures over the course of history. This article briefly provides an overview of the prevailing cultural associations of water in early Chinese and Indian traditions of religion...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Columns, Resources

Tasting Soy Sauce, Teaching Culture: A Case for Experiential Learning

Imagine teaching a lively class where even the quietest student gets involved. When students sample soy sauces from all over Asia and even the heart of Kentucky, comments like “I didn’t know soy sauce had such flavor” and “I didn’t know we made soy sauce in America” pour out of students’ mouths. Tasting soy sauce is an interactive way of engaging students with Asian cultures and history. My discussion here concerns a course called China: Food and Cultures at the Culinary Institu...

Feature Article

The Hooghly River: A Sacred and Secular Waterway

[caption id="attachment_7320" align="alignright" width="205"] Detail from The Descent of the Ganga, life-size carved rock relief at Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu, India. Source: Wikimedia Commons, by Ssriram mt, at https://tinyurl.com/y8jspxmp.[/caption] The Hooghly weaves through the Indian state of West Bengal from the Ganges, its parent river, to the sea. At just 460 kilometers (approximately 286 miles), its length is modest in comparison with great Asian rivers like the Yangtze in China or th...

Feature Article

More Than a Meal: School Lunch in Japan

For many children in school, little compares to the hunger felt waiting for lunch. Breakfast is a memory, and it is the promise of the midday meal that strengthens the spirit through the morning lessons. In some corners of the world, the lunch hour is considered a time of respite, a chance for students and teachers to enjoy a break from their classes, scarf down a meal, and socialize with friends. In Japan, by contrast, lunchtime is an important part of shokuiku, or food education. The midday ho...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Resources

Asia: Experiential Learning (Guest Editor, Tommy Lamont) The Power of Food: Students and Local Women Cooking Together in Rural Japan

All of us have several meals a day, yet few among us have thought about the power of food and how it affects a region’s culture, history, and people. Different people like different food—something we noticed during our program titled Local/Global Food as Revitalization in a small rural town called Shintotsukawa, located two hours northwest of Sapporo, a city with a population of 1.9 million and located in the center of Japan’s northmost island Hokkaidō. Local/Global Food as Revitalizat...

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